The resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases and spread of drug-resistant germs will be the main topics of a public forum in Oklahoma City on May 21.
The free event, sponsored by nonprofit news organization Oklahoma Watch and titled “The War on Infections,” will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Embassy Suites at 741 N. Phillips Ave. The hotel is located, just east of the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and N.E. 8th Street.
Panelists will be Laurence Burnsed, state epidemiologist for the Oklahoma State Department of Health; Dr. Bryan P. White, an infectious disease clinical pharmacist at OU Medicine, and Dr. Thomas Kuhls, a pediatrician who practiced at Norman Pediatrics Associates and specializes in pediatric infectious diseases.
Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion, and questions from the audience will be taken. Guests are encouraged to register at oklahomawatch.org.
Concerns over infections continue to rise in Oklahoma and across the nation. So far this year, about 840 cases of measles, once thought to be eradicated, have been confirmed in 24 states. Oklahoma saw three cases in 2018 and one so far in 2019. Health experts are worried that the growing number of exemptions from vaccines for children is putting more Oklahomans at risk. Should exemptions be curbed or made harder to get? How would that accommodate parental rights?
In the meantime, hospitals and other health facilities keep fighting to detect and prevent outbreaks of multi-drug-resistant germs, including a fungal “superbug,” Candida auris, that has been declared a global health threat and surfaced in two Oklahoma facilities.
What can Oklahomans do to prevent infections at home, in school or day care, in hospitals and in the workplace?
• About the panelists: Laurence Burnsed became state epidemiologist and deputy commissioner of prevention and preparedness services at the state Department of Health in November 2018. He had served more than 18 years as an epidemiologist and program manager in the acute disease service. He earned his Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology from Florida A&M University, and is currently enrolled in the University of Oklahoma’s professional master of business administration program.
Dr. Thomas Kuhls received his medical degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine, followed by an internship and residency at the Children’s Medical Center at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California-Los Angeles. He was a professor in the OU Health Science Center’s pediatrics department in the divisions of infectious diseases and immunology.
Dr. Bryan P. White is an infectious disease clinical pharmacist at OU Medicine. He obtained a doctor of pharmacy degree at the University of Georgia, Athens, followed by residencies at Albany Medical Center, New York, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Oxford. White has published more than 10 peer-reviewed articles.
Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that produces in-depth and investigative content on policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to oklahomawatch.org.